Priestess of the Garden by Karen Kelsay

For fifteen years this lemon tree has bloomed
And offered up her fruit; our little maiden
Who sweeps the walk, housekeeper of the soil.
Her headdress in the wintertime is laden

With branches that bear golden offerings.
She’s our enchanted one, with perfect limbs
Producing flowers in the springtime. Her
Exquisite emerald leaves evoke soft hymns

From sparrows on the trellis. Daughter, bound
Into a pebbled, earthy ground, reviving
Our senses with a holy, hidden fire.
Secluded shrine of shade €” somehow, deriving

All glory from the sky. Sweet priestess, gowned
And birthed in rites where songs of life are crowned.


Karen Kelsay is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of five chapbooks. Her latest book, Dove on a Church Bench, will be published next year by Punkin House Press.   She is the editor of Victorian Violet Press, an online poetry magazine, and lives in Orange County, California, with her British husband and two cats.   Karen was February’s featured artist in The New Formalist. See her work here.

Karen’s poem “Waiting for Spring” won last year’s Spring Poetry Runoff’s Most Popular Vote Award.   She has published several poems on WIZ. To see more of her poetry on WIZ, search on her name using the search box lower left in the sidebar.

*non-contest submission*


Desert Maiden by Judith Curtis

In Spring she lays her winter buckskin by,
bathes her brown skin in gentle rains
then dons a robe of filmy green.

From a hidden place in the earth
she brings her cache of jewels;
slips circlets of golden poppies round her arms,
drapes turquoise lupine about her neck,
anoints herself with scent of evening primrose,
white silver in the moonlight.

Wind, smitten by her beauty,
rushes from the west to dance with her.
He howls ancient love chants to her.

Jealous Sun hears;
he sees them whirling.
When she casts aside her robe and jewels
he forces wind away
and pours down love heat
on her tawny body.

Overcome, she lies stricken by searing rays,
cooled only by the passionate summer tears
of Sun’s longing.


Judith has been a Master Gardner and a volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix for twenty years. She loves the desert and often writes about it in her poetry. She has degrees from BYU, Boston University and a Creative Writing certificate from Phoenix Community College. She has had poems published in Irreantum, Dialogue, Segullah, and Exponent II.   Last March she participated in a reading tour of Mormon   women   writers organized by Dr. Holly Welker and Dr. Joanna Brooks. She also enjoys playing duets with the birds in the backyard on her Native American flute.   Judith is also the poetry editor for Exponent II.   You can reach the online forum for Exponent II here.

To read another poem by Judith published on WIZ, go here.

*contest entry*

Respite by Carla Martin-Wood

Deep in the sugar-blossomed orchard
spring catches in the throat of each bloom
pink with nectar promises

heavy with buzz of bees
dreaming honey-laden fruit to come
this ancient cherry tree
beckons with shade
a dusty wanderer who

turns from roadside Jiffy Mart
leaves billboard clutter
and afternoon sales calls behind
climbs the paint-peeled fence
that separates this holy of holies
from hum and drum of market-
driven life

to lie beneath the timeless flutter
of branch and bower and bee
to relish vague, familiar longings
for childhood’s stolen cherry-
pleasured afternoons.


To read Carla’s bio and more of her poetry on WIZ, go here, here, and here.

*contest entry*

Thorns and Thistles and Briars (An Easter Poem) by Jonathon Penny

This is a rather wretched place,
All things considered:
More paradox than paradise;

A poky little patch of dust and scrub
Now parched, now drowned,
Shaken and, as often, stirred;

A heaven gone to ground,
Ground gone to seed,
Thorn- and thistle-crowned

And for the very birds €”
The dove, the hardy thrush,
The brown chat with his melancholy word.

It’s an abated wish,
This dense and dropping orb,
A momentary, dark, full-throated hush;

A nascent sun, an infant star,
This crib of Adam-Christ:
Worth falling and worth rising for.


Jonathon Penny took his MA in Renaissance literature at BYU and his PhD in 20th Century British literature from the University of Ottawa. He has taught at universities in the U.S. and Canada, and now lives with his family in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates where he is Assistant Professor of English at UAE University. He has published on Wyndham Lewis and apocalyptic literature and is currently at work on several books of poetry for precocious pipsqueaks under the penname €œProfessor Percival P. Pennywhistle. € Bits and pieces may be found here. In addition to those he has published on WIZ, he has grown-up poems forthcoming in Dialogue and with Peculiar Pages Press.   He misses Spring.

To read more of Jonathon’s poems published on WIZ, go here, here, and here.

*contest entry*